Building a Numenera Adventure With Microscope


2 minutes


So, as you may have gathered, I’m pretty into my indie rpgs. I’m also the kind of sad, slightly pathetic person who sees all these amazingly cool, inspiring games and then never plays them because they know nobody who wants to. This means I have a growing collection of unused RPG books. But that’s another story.

Recently, I got involved with an effort to collaboratively build a Numenera campaign over at Ninth World Hub. Microscope got mentioned and I chipped in, saying I was definitely game for collaboratively building a campaign and that I happened to have the Microscope rulebook.

There is a certain irony in building a campaign for a game I have yet to have played/run using a game I will be playing for the first time.

For those that don’t know, Microscope is a really fun collaborative ‘history building’ game by Ben Robbins. You define an overall theme or subject for your timeline, a starting point and and ending point and then build it out from there using a series of rules designed to ensure you get a fun, interesting timeline. Generally it’s designed more for epic time spans, like creation of the universe to the death of the gods, or the rise and fall of a great empire, so zooming in and making it work for a smaller timeframe is a bit of a challenge. The game is also designed for an ideal minimum of 3 people but we only have 2 including myself, so there is another problem. However, with some minor modifications to the rules, I think we have something that works.

With our limited number of players and the fact we are playing it play-by-post because we’re in different timezones, we’ve limited the number of things defined each round (the Lens usually can do up to 4 things a round, but we limit to 3). We also only ever do dictated scenes rather than roleplaying them out, because it’s too slow and awkward otherwise and we’d like to see some results from our game before the heat death of the universe.

We’ve been playing entirely in a google docs document, which has been working out pretty well.

When it’s finished, the raw microscope game transcript and the resulting adventure it’ll likely be posted publicly.

Update:

I recently came across this article about using Trello to run a microscope game - looks like it could be perfect for future games!

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